By Sterling Pingree
We are two games into the 2017 World Series and so far nobody has been disappointed, except maybe Dodgers fans after Jansen blew the save in game two. The first two games have been incredible theater in that there have been twists and turns, but also in the fact that they have been played at an extremely high level with what really feels like the two best teams in baseball.
Game one was the model for what baseball should be. If you want to market the sport, that badly needs to be advertised to a younger generation, then game one is the shining example that you would use. Clayton Kershaw, the greatest pitcher of the post Pedro Martinez/Randy Johnson era, matched up against a former Cy Young winner in Dallas Keuchel. The game took a whopping 2 hours, 28 minutes to play and all of the runs that made up the 3-1 score, came off of home runs.
Now, some purists might say that a game that is solely decided by the long ball, isn’t what they want. They want double switches, sacrifice bunts and pushing the ball to the right side to advance the runner, but even the stodgiest of baseball traditionalists couldn’t argue with the drama and tension that surrounded this game.
Kershaw’s performance deserves its own digression. Until you see a great player, play at the highest level in the biggest moment of their respective sport, it is hard to define their legacy and that is what Clayton Kershaw’s first World Series start felt like. It felt like the beginning of a legend being written. Kershaw gets a bad rap sometimes for being such a phenomenal pitcher in the regular season, but gets nicked for not being Bob Gibson in the playoffs, which to a point is fair.
Kershaw has long suffered from the comparison to his only peer in this generation, San Francisco’s Madison Bumgarner. Bumgarner, who is a superb pitcher in his own right, has been a modern day Walter Johnson in the postseason on his way to winning 3 World Series. That’s why Tuesday night felt so special, because we got to see an artist work in an environment deserving of his skill and like the 105 degree heat, Kershaw rose to the challenge.
Kershaw went 7, gave up 3 hits, no runs, struck out 11 Astros and left the game only throwing 83 pitches. Did he have more left in the tank? Absolutely, but Dave Roberts knows how important Kershaw is to the Dodgers chances of winning this series and knows that if he plays his cards right, he might be able to get two more starts out of him.
Game two had more twists and turns than the Kancamagus highway, even with all of the incredible moments in Boston sports the last 18 years, it’s hard to imagine watching this game and being a fan of either team.
Verlander, who in this series is playing a role similar to Kershaw; in that he is one of the most dominant pitchers of this generation looking to get his first ring. For most of the night it looked like Verlander might throw a no-hitter and wound up leaving the game like Keuchel before him, with a 3-1 deficit, on a pair of Dodger home runs. Every young star from Houston hit a home run in the 8th inning or later and like trying to kill a psycho in a horror movie, finally put the Dodgers to rest in the 11th inning to even the series.
Now the series shifts to Houston, where the Astros are a perfect 6-0 this postseason. The game three match up pits the Dodgers’ Yu Darvish against Lance McCullers which leaves ALCS game seven winner, Charlie Morton to pitch game four for Houston. The Dodgers haven’t announced who they’ll run out there in game four yet, though smart money says that if the Astros take game three, we could see Kershaw go on three days’ rest twice to take the ball in games four and seven. It doesn’t get much better than watching the best pitcher in baseball, pitch three times in a seven game World Series, decided in perhaps the sports’ most beautiful setting of Chavez Revine? Now that would be the best advertising that baseball could ever ask for.
Sterling Pingree (@SterlingPingree on Twitter) is a co-host on The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.